Pique N Your Interest 

Is Whistler getting boring?

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Life, John Lennon once said, is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

And Whistler is perpetually making other plans – Olympic plans, plans for sustainability, plans for managed and limited growth through 2020, plans for Lot 1-9 (possibly with plans for a Paralympic arena), plans to revive tourism, plans to get more money/taxes from the provincial government, plans to make more plans.

And while all of this planning is going on, here’s what’s happening in the "life" department:

The Boot closed its doors for good on Saturday, April 29. I don’t think anyone really comprehends how much of a blow this was to music lovers, whatever their tastes may be. Even the Boot Ballet had its fans, whether you personally found it entertaining or not.

The Boot was one of the things that gave this town its mojo, with roots stretching back into Whistler’s hedonistic, pre "we’re a family resort" days – sometimes called "the good old days," depending who you talk to. There’s no question that things will be a lot more boring without it.

In the last few months there have been several public meetings with consultants to discuss ways to inject some life back into Whistler. One problem, we’ve been told, is that Whistler is losing its reputation as a unique place to shop as generic chain stores slowly replace our more eclectic local shops. Not only are regional visitors giving the Village Stroll a miss, so are many locals.

Until our largely absentee commercial landlords get a clue we will continue to see our established local businesses go under, and storefronts sitting empty until either chain stores move in or landlords can arrange temporary leases with various fly-by-night discount operations.

It’s as if the entire village has become that corner of the mall where nobody goes, and slowly gets taken over by sewing supply outlets, pet shops and dollar stores.

But while most of the real power ultimately resides with the landlords, the municipality could be doing more to help out – such as changing a few stifling bylaws to allow for more sidewalk shopping and livelier promotions. Let stores put as many racks outside as they want, as long as they’re not physically blocking traffic, and encourage people to browse. The village should feel like an open market, a place to be explored.

I find it funny (funny strange not ha ha funny) that the municipality is only now looking into the possibility of allowing buskers in the village on a trial basis, and only then to save Tourism Whistler some street entertainer money. Why did it take so long? Every city and town with any life in it at all has a few buskers on the streets – something for people to listen to or watch while they get money out of the bank machine, drop by the liquor store or line up to get into a club. We could even audition and license performers to ensure they’re good enough, or limit the places they can go if we’re worried about the situation getting out of hand.

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